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Bratislava is brimming with extracurricular activities

For many families, the start of the school year - which will be here sooner than you think - means a search for after-school activities for the kids. Slovakia has a rich base of extracurricular activities, oftentimes at rock-bottom, state-subsidized prices. Take the Základná Umelecká Škola (Basic Art School) system, for example. Bratislava alone has about a dozen schools which offer group and individual lessons in art, dance and music. Since the courses, times and prices vary by school, it is best to contact the school in your neighborhood. However, as an example, the school on Exnárova ulica offers group painting and dance lessons for 25 Sk a month, and individual instrumental instruction for 40 Sk a month; most classes meet twice a week. They do have an English-speaking teacher for dance and painting, so children without Slovak speech skills are welcome.

For many families, the start of the school year - which will be here sooner than you think - means a search for after-school activities for the kids. Slovakia has a rich base of extracurricular activities, oftentimes at rock-bottom, state-subsidized prices.

Take the Základná Umelecká Škola (Basic Art School) system, for example. Bratislava alone has about a dozen schools which offer group and individual lessons in art, dance and music. Since the courses, times and prices vary by school, it is best to contact the school in your neighborhood. However, as an example, the school on Exnárova ulica offers group painting and dance lessons for 25 Sk a month, and individual instrumental instruction for 40 Sk a month; most classes meet twice a week. They do have an English-speaking teacher for dance and painting, so children without Slovak speech skills are welcome.

Most of the schools already held a registration and testing process at the end of the last school year, but say they can be flexible about admitting more students if they have room. Your best bet is to visit the school in the first week of September.

Another option for arts lessons is the Bratislava Cultural Center, or Stredisko Kultúry, at Vajnorská 21 (tel: 07/272-620). They offer individual instruction in piano, guitar, flute and voice for 200 Sk a month. They also host classes for both kids and for adults (in Slovak) in yoga and self-defense (120 Sk a month) and pottery (800 Sk a year for kids, 1,000 Sk a year for adults). For an especially Slovak activity, there are two folk dance groups, one for small children and one for 12 to 18-year-olds; the groups require auditions first. To sign up for classes, visit the center in August or the first two weeks of September.

For more art, dance, music and language classes, check out the schedule at the nearest House of Culture, or Dom Kultúry; each offers special activities for kids.

If you are interested in activities that are more physically active, there are plenty of sports opportunities for kids in the capital. Tire them out at the Slovan Hockey School, which is a base for hockey groups for kids of all ages. There are five age-based groups for kids 5-10 years old, a 10-14 group, and a 15-19 group. The lower groups practice on weekends, and participation costs 500 Sk a month; teenagers practice weekends and weekdays and must pay 1,000 Sk a month. Alexander Molnár will help place your little one in the group most suited for them; call him in the first week of September at 07/288-290 or fax 07/284-111.

Future Peles can hone their soccer skills with the Slovan Bratislava sports club (Junácka 2, 07/646-35). They have teams for kids of different levels between the ages of seven and 19. The groups for 7 and 8-year-olds are non-competitive, so anyone is welcome to play, regardless of experience; they play together three times a week. Older kids have to be selected - Ján Vodný, the director, said he is happy to try out any youngster who is interested in playing. If chosen, they must join the Slovak Football Association. According to Vodný, "language isn't a problem."


Glossary = Slovník

after school = po škole, mimo školy
age group = veková skupina
dance class = kurzy tanca,hodiny tanca
music = hudba
piano = klavír
violin = husle
flute = flauta
ceramics = keramika
hockey team = hokejový tím
soccer team = futbalový tím
language classes = jazykové kurzy, lekcie
self-defense = sebaobrana

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